The Path of Education for Third Gender

Inclusivity and Equitability of Three Genders in Education
Representational Image
Representational ImageFile/ GK

Hai Hai Wesai, Yaran Hai Tadepevnas”(Ahhh my friend! My beloved agonized me). This might sound like a famous wedding song to us, popularized by none other than the other one ‘Reshma of Kashmir’ but this is the real plight of the transgender community as they are agonized by their own families, society, religion and nation.

The transgender community is mentally, physically, verbally, and sexually abused. We call them the other ones or hijra or queer till 2014 when the Supreme Court recognized transgender people as the “third gender” and avowed socio, cultural and political rights guaranteed by the constitution to be functional to them as well.

Still, they are socially segregated, culturally, educationally and legally classified. This is because the nomenclature “third gender” is a delinquent in itself: it treats sexuality as a classic ladder on which the lowest stair is taken by the queer community.

Although it offers them lawful recognition, it does not alleviate them of their adject position and circumstances as they continue to be a part of the marginalized segment of society and are not considered equal to the rest of the population.

Despite major medical organizations, like the American Medical Association and American Psychiatric Association, declared being transgender is not a mental disorder. They are conscientiously considered ‘abnormal’ and from a very tender age, they encounter hostile, biased, humiliating, alienated, and deprived, situations which eventually made them ‘outcasts’ in their beloved but conventional society. The only social space they have is the sangeet mehfils and the only season for them is the wedding season, which is also being taken over by normal mainstreamers.

Transgender is a parasol term for persons whose gender identity, gender expression or behaviour does not conform to that typically linked with the sex to which they were assigned at birth.

Gender identity refers to a person’s core sense of being male, female or something else; gender expression refers to the mode a person connects gender identity to others through behaviour, clothing, hairstyles, voice or physical appearance.

“Trans” is sometimes used as shorthand for “transgender.” While transgender is generally a good term to use, not everyone whose appearance or behaviour is gender-nonconforming will identify as a transgender person. 

As a society we never try to understand them, few of us take pity on them, few are scared of the wrath of God and few petrified of their bad-duas give alms to them and very few of us genuinely help them.

The prime void in the societal arrangement is that nobody knows the real description of a transgender. Sensitization will not help until people are ready to accept change and acceptance can come only through education.

Education and awareness are constantly changing the ways that transgender people are talked about in popular culture, academia and science, particularly as individuals’ awareness, knowledge and openness about transgender people and their experiences grow.

Education gave us a better understanding that being Trans was not a mental health condition, and leaving it there was causing stigma. So, the World Health Organization’s global manual of diagnoses stated that Transgender health issues will no longer be classified as mental and behavioural disorders. 

Time and again inclusive and equitable education has been part of National Policies and curriculum frameworks and even the Sustainable Development Goal ensures inclusive and equitable quality education and promotes lifelong learning opportunities for all. But we won’t find a single member of the transgender community working in government departments, we won’t see any one of us encouraging them to educate themselves and take up some skill development course. According to a study of 2013 in Kashmir, 30 percent of them never attended school, 10 percent reached High School, four percent to Higher secondary, one percent to vocational education, 0 percent to higher Education and 100 percent believed that they are being politically alienated and zero percent cast a vote.

This is not only in J&K, students enrolled in schools across India show transgender participation at just 61,214 students with 12 states and Union Territories showing zero participation of students from this group of society.

Education liberates the intellect, unlocks the imagination and is a rudiment for self-respect. But extreme social segregation by educated lot of them tells upon their self-worth and sense of social concern.

Education is the key to a prosperous society. It opens a world of prospects, chances and opportunities, making it possible for each of all three genders to contribute to a progressive, healthy and happy society.

Learning benefits every person and plants and education should be available to all of us. Transgender should be brought up in schools but the biggest challenge is the mindset of the society.

Like Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat governments, in July 2022, the government of Jammu and Kashmir announces a transgender welfare board for the protection of the rights and interests of the transgender community in the region.

It is expected that this welfare board ensures educational institutions address issues of violence, abuse, and discrimination against transgender people. It should also establish a monitoring committee designed for investigating reports of discrimination.

This welfare board should educate staff and youth about gender identity and make sure that everyone understands that transgender youth can be contributive to society like mainstreamers. 

Transgender students should get opportunities like fee waivers, fee reimbursements, scholarships, free textbooks, free hostel accommodation and other facilities at subsidized rates to make higher education and professional education accessible to the community. Special coaching should be provided to the candidates for competitive examinations.

Transgender students need constant representation and support in the education setup so that dishonors affecting their uniqueness can be addressed. Gender-inclusive education and curriculum can only lead to transformation in mainstream social perceptions since education is still seen as a luxury by them.

The socio-economic situation of transgender people in our country indicates that education is out of reach for them. Their major concern is survival. 

Transgender children deal with social disgrace outside schools as well as they are not putative as decorous members of society by people. Hence, making schools and educational institutions ‘trans friendly’ is the urgent need of the hour.

All educational institutions should establish an anti-discrimination cell to monitor any form of discrimination against the transgender community. On the line of strict anti-ragging cells, there should be zero tolerance towards any incidence of discrimination or complaint.

There is a need for a focused institutionalized mechanism of research and academic activities to generate more data/information to identify and understand the problems related to various aspects of their life and help frame policies through research and academic programs that would bring an effective and long-term change in their lives.

The government, as well as the citizens, should acknowledge the plight of the transgender community of Kashmir, communicate with them and empower their voices, bring them to schools, and provide them with physical conveniences, social acceptance and intellectual dignity. This third gender doesn’t want much from the other two genders, just dignified treatment and normalized existence in society.

They don’t want sympathy; they want to be loved and respected. And their longing for dignity and love can only end with gender-sensitive social spaces and a gender-inclusive education system.

The author is a senior Academic Officer at SCERT J&K

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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